Law & Technology Scholarship


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Ten Dimensions of Technology Regulation – Finding Your Bearings in the Research Space of an Emerging Discipline

Bert-Jaap Koops
Tilburg University – Faculty of Law (TILT)

DIMENSIONS OF TECHNOLOGY REGULATION, pp. 309-324, M.E.A. Goodwin et al., eds., Nijmegen: WLP, 2010
Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 015/2010

We are at the start of what may be emerging as a new discipline of academic study: technology regulation, the study of how technologies are or should be regulated. With a broad definition of technology (the wide range of tools and crafts that people use to change or adapt to their environment) and of regulation (the intentional influencing of someone’s or something’s behaviour) this is a wide-ranging and complex field indeed. To get a grip on this emerging field, we need theoretical grounding. So far, few attempts have been made to map the space in which regulators and researchers who deal with technology regulation move. This chapter provides a first, essayistic attempt at comprehensively mapping the space of the emerging field of technology regulation by distinguishing and describing the ten dimensions that together span up this space. Starting with technology-related dimensions (type of technology, degree of innovation, place, and time), it moves on via regulation-related dimensions (type of regulation, normative outlook, and knowledge) to research-related dimensions (discipline, problem definition, and frame). The articulation of technology regulation as a ten-dimensional space is an analytic tool that may help us to understand what this emerging discipline is about, how it approaches its research, which known unknowns need to be researched, and to get an intuition of the unknown unknowns that await us out there when we further travel in technology regulation research space.

Keywords: technology, ICT, biotechnology, nanotechnologies, regulation, law, research